Before PAXU, I had never before demoed a board game. It's no surprise that I enjoyed it—I am a teacher by trade, and I love helping people learn and appreciate new things. But showing people how to play a board game over and over again also does a lot of interesting things to your relationship with that game. Especially if you only play the first 2–3 turns of it repeatedly, without ever getting to finish.
I wrote a positive review of Stellar Leap earlier this year, and I am a fan of Carla Kopp's solo bots. So Stellar Leap was the game that I demoed several times this weekend. I smoothed out my patter, found my weak spots in terms of remembering the rules, and learned what aspects of the game were most challenging for new players so that I could focus on explaining them better next time. I also, however, learned pretty much every card in the planet and event decks. I need a few months before I play this game again.
That said, I remain a fan of Stellar Leap. Actually, I think more highly of it as a game now than I did before I demoed it. I typically revisit games and my reviews of them anyway, but it was an especially cool experience to return to a game again and play it so intensely. I found myself thinking about strategies and desperately wanting to finish (or watch someone else finish) a full game, because I wanted to see what could happen. I have had a lot of time to contemplate Stellar Leap, and I definitely have a few new tricks up my sleeve to try the next time I go up against the AI during a solo session.
I think my biggest takeaway from this experience is: Never, ever agree to demo a game you don't enjoy. Demoing is a highly repetitive process, and there are going to be moments when your voice is failing or when you're tired of explaining the same rules for the 15th time that day. You will burn out on the game you are teaching to others, right at the moment when you're trying to help them see its charms. But as with any relationship, if you're spending lots of time with a game you really like, you'll end up glad that you put in that time... even if you also need to take a break.
This experience has also given me so much more respect for people who playtest their games extensively and who demo them at cons. It's probably different when you're showing off your "baby," but still—that is commitment.